Nymph and Dry Fly Fishing: The Differences Presented by Donald Ray Bernard

Accomplished outdoorsman, entrepreneur, and businessman Donald Ray Bernard co-owns both Golden Stag Safaris, a big-game hunting ranch, and a premier Argentinian fly-fishing lodge near Jurassic Lake. Mr. Bernard has extensive experience with a wide range of fishing and hunting techniques. In his spare time, Donald Ray Bernard enjoys hiking, fishing, skiing, and scuba diving. In this piece, he explains fly fishing’s two most popular techniques: dry fly fishing and nymph fly fishing.

While traditional fishing uses a worm or other edible bait on a hook to attract fish, fly fishing uses artificial flies made of feathers, fur, foam, plastic, and yarn. The most popular method of fly fishing is dry fly fishing. In this technique, the fly is cast out over the water, where it floats on the top, imitating an insect sitting on the surface of the water. Fish then come to the surface to attempt to eat the fly, at which point they are hooked by the fisherman. In dry fly fishing, the angler can see all elements of the tackle, since they sit on the surface. Dry fly fishing is a good technique to catch a variety of fish, but some species like trout prefer to feed under the surface of the water, so dry fly fishing may not be as effective.

To catch fish feeding beneath the surface of the water, anglers use a second technique, known as nymph fishing. While traditional dry flies are intended to imitate fully grown insects, nymphs imitate the juvenile form of insects, which live under the water. The nymph lures float below the surface of the water, often held down with a small weight. This can make nymph fishing slightly more challenging, as the fly is hidden in the water, making detecting a bite more difficult.